The Flowerpot Man (a short story by Gary Shaw, aka The Resident Weebler)

Another writting challenge with Sudo One next. We have both written a begining of a stroy for one another for the other to finish. Here is my effort from what Sudo one wrote in green. Check out his effort on SudoOne.Wordpress.com

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Desert Highway

The Flowerpot Man

Hugh shouldn’t have been there, watching the heat haze shimmer off the road in front of him. He was from Oxfordshire; the closest thing you got to heat haze in Oxfordshire was when you turned the Aga up too high.  

As he walked he knew now for certain that the cowboy boots and Stetson had been a mistake. He’d been in Texas for only 5 days, not only had he discovered that everything in the Lone Star State was indeed bigger, but he now knew that cowboy boots were inclined to give one blisters and a Stetson would make an Englishman look foolish.

His feet and foolishness were the least of his worries, he was nervous the gun in the holster on his left hip would go off if he so much as looked in its general direction. One of your own bullets in the toe is not ideal when you are trying to get a job done, or indeed kill a man.

He must have been lost in his own thoughts, for when the truck pulled up beside him, he hadn’t heard it coming. Hugh looked along the length of the shining silver monster of an articulated truck it big bright red lettering on the side of the cargo hold it read ‘Big Bills Haulage’.

He walked up to the cab, the driver was looking at him from his window, and he wore a grin as Hugh approached. ‘Well howdy there partner’ said the driver. ‘D’ya get lost on the way to a fancy dress contest?’ The driver started laughing so hard at what he’d just said that he started coughing. Hugh maintained a pleasant smile until the driver had finished hacking up.

‘Thank you for stopping, Are you heading anywhere near La Plata?’ Hugh asked.

The driver’s happy demeanour shifted somewhat at the mention of this town. ‘La Plata’ the driver said. ‘That’s 50 miles from here, were thinking of walking all the way there boy?’ Hugh looked at the road again and saw that’s all there was, disappearing as it was in to the distance. ‘To tell you the truth’ Hugh said.’ I don’t know what I was thinking, I’m not even sure I want to go to La Plata any more’.

‘Well Cowboy’ the driver said. ‘It just so happens that I am heading through La Plata, so if you want a ride you are welcome’ Hugh looked at the road again and then looked back at the way he had come and saw it looked just as desolate. His decsion made, he climbed up in to the cab, thanking the driver as he did so.

The cab was air conditioned and Hugh felt such relief for coming out of the heat. It also smelt very pleasant; it had clean surfaces and not a mascot in sight. This truckers environment was very different from what Hugh had seen portrayed in the movies.

The driver himself looked more typically movie-esc. He was a rotund man with stubble you could light a match off of. He wore a red and black plaid shirt and had a light blue peaked cap on with Oilers written on the front.

The truck growled as they drove off.  The driver spoke first ‘So what’s your name Cowboy?’ Hugh wasn’t sure he wanted to tell this stranger his name given what he was considering doing. ‘It’s Michael’ Hugh said. ‘I bet I can guess yours’. The driver looked round at him with a slightly worried confused look. ‘Really’, he said. ‘It’s Bill’ Hugh said. A look of realisation came over the drivers face and he smiled and chuckled. ‘Right, I see what you’ve done there. No, my name is Ben. Big Bill is just my employer, but it’s only the two of us who do this.’

Hugh couldn’t help but smile at this ‘so what do haul?’ ‘

‘Well we carry all sorts of cargo’ Ben said. ‘But we’ve recently got a contract with a ceramics company, and at the moment I’m hauling a truck load of flower pots to Amarillo’.

It was Hugh’s turn to laugh so hard that he started to cough. Ben looked very confused at this reaction ‘What’s so funny partner?’ Hugh calmed down enough to say ‘So your names are Bill and Ben and you’re the flowerpot men. And you’re on your way to Amarillo. Do you know the way?’ This set Hugh off again in to fits of hysteria.   

Ben just shook his head ‘You English find the damndest things funny. What about you Michael. How’d you end up out here, dressed like extra from a western?’

Hugh had been so tense lately that laughing like he just had had relaxed him immensely. ‘I don’t know really’ He said wiping a tear away from his cheek. ‘I’ve never been to America before and since I knew I was coming to Texas, I thought these clothes would be appropriate’.

‘Well, I can tell you for one, the sentiment is right, you need boots and a hat out this way. But it looks like you went to a costume shop to get these?’

‘I wanted to look the part.’ Hugh said. ‘I know now how foolish I must look, I guess I’m somewhat unworldly when it comes to that.’

‘And what about that gun’ Ben said. ‘That part of your costume too? Or are you on your way to La Plata to kill someone.’

Hugh should have just said no straight away, should have said it was just a toy gun from the costume shop. Instead he said nothing. He left that silence hanging in the air for too long, and even though he wanted to say something after a while, make his excuses, he knew he had left it to long. Ben said nothing either, they just kept driving.

After about a half an hour, Ben shifted in his seat and broke the silence by letting out a deep breath as if he had come to a decision and said

‘I’ve done it you know.’

Hugh looked at him, Ben’s eyes stayed fixed on the long empty road ahead.

’Done what?’ Hugh asked.

‘Done what you’re thinking of doing.’ Ben said.

Hugh started to feel panic rising inside him. This was a test of him mettle right now. He had to stay in control.

‘What do you mean?’ Hugh said.

‘Don’t do this.’ Ben said and banged his palm on the steering wheel. ‘Don’t play innocent with me. I saw it in your eyes when I stopped. Seen it before in my own eyes, saw it every time I looked in the mirror before I did it. That look, of revenge’.

Hugh looked out of the side window; saw the emptiness of this lonely highway rushing by him. He kept looking at it, away from Ben as he spoke. ‘I really loved her. Even after all she did. We we’re happy until he came along. I mean I suppose I knew she was having the affair with him.’ Hugh’s eyes began to feel itchy. ‘The police told me it was an accident, but he was driving and he survived.’

‘I take it that this fella is living in La Plata’ Ben said. Hugh nodded his head. ‘Do you think you’ll feel any better if you take his life too?’

‘I don’t know what else to do’ Hugh said.

‘Let it go partner. I wish I had’ Ben said. ‘I wish I could take back what I did every day. I wish I could let the son of bitch live with what he’d done. Instead it’s just made my life a misery. The clothes I’m wearing now, the truck I’m driving here. This is all just an illusion you see. This wasn’t always me. And those clothes, the ones you wearing now. You go through with this and you ain’t never going to be able to take them off.’ Hugh stayed silent, and kept looking out of the window.

They reached to outskirts of La Plata as dusk was falling, Ben stopped the truck. ‘Amarillo you say’ Hugh said. ‘Yep’ said Ben. ‘And I know the way too’.

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About residentweebler
Short Story Writer and Opinionated observer. Visit my blog for all this and more. https://theresidentweeble.wordpress.com/

One Response to The Flowerpot Man (a short story by Gary Shaw, aka The Resident Weebler)

  1. Nicely done. Really nicely done.

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